My Matanzas Scripture Verses: A Commentary
Since Reformation greats like Luther and Calvin wrote commentaries on various parts of the Bible, I wanted to try my hand at writing a commentary for the two verses I read aloud as part of my Protestant pilgrimage to Matanzas Inlet in March of this year. Hopefully I can also explain why they were selected.
I knew I was “chosen” to go to Matanzas, to remember the dead, to pay my respects, and to be a witness to the men’s courage and suffering. Choosing the right Scripture verses was a difficult task. But there was one that jumped out at me immediately: Revelation 12:11. “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.” This is a powerful verse that explains how we are to love Christ and His truth more than anything, even our very lives, which humans are intrinsically programmed to guard ferociously.
“Him” is considered to mean Satan and his minions and the many traps that he has laid and continues to lay for humankind. “By the blood of the Lamb” alludes to the bloodshed Jesus underwent to sanctify His people and atone for their transgressions. “By the word of their testimony” is a powerful allusion to the countless martyrs of Christendom and thus to those who fell at Matanzas as well. The term “Lamb,” referring to Christ, is used many times in Revelation and is symbolic of the lambs that were once used in Jewish ceremony to atone for sin. Christ, the “new lamb,” atoned for our sins and took away the need for sacrificial animals, becoming the “ultimate sacrifice.” (For a song that gives me shivers every time and reminds me of the martyrs of Matanzas, check out “Martyr Song” by Rick Pino).
The second verse I chose was 1 Corinthians 16:13: “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” When I first came upon this verse while searching for Scripture to recite on my pilgrimage, I felt chills. This was one of the most perfect matches I had ever made. The words “be on your guard” seem to have two different meanings in this context, first that sinful humans are easily distracted by sin and must guard against pitfalls, and second that in times of persecution it is especially important to be aware of one’s surroundings and to know one’s priorities.
“Stand firm in the faith” is a clear, no-nonsense phrase. No matter what, we are not to abandon Christ and His message. It is expected that we will seek the strength and courage necessary for our trials--- of course, that strength and courage is available only with God’s assistance. “Be courageous” and “be strong” are along the same lines . . . never deny and never fear, for the Lord is with you. This verse, spoken at Matanzas Inlet where so many Protestant believers died for their faith, touched my heart. The Matanzas martyrs remembered John 15:13: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”
Jesus was the greatest friend of all.
(c) 2012 Joyously Saved